By the start of this year, more than half of Europe's asylum-seeker arrivals over a two-year period had yet to be processed, a study shows. For many, the pace hinged on which nation was handling their applications.
The Washington-based Pew Research Center said that permits to stay - at least temporarily - had been granted to some 40 percent of the 2.2 million who had arrived in 2015 and 2016.
By the begining of 2017, 52 percent of those who entered in the previous two years were still waiting for decisions. Only three percent had been ejected from the European country in which they had applied for protection.
Wednesday's look at past data, based on information from the EU's statistical agency (Eurostat) and sourced from all 28 EU members plus Switzerland and Norway, found that Germany had been relatively quick in processing applications.
Germany's adjudication period for applicants from war-torn Syria was about three months. Belgium managed waiting times of only one month. By contrast the average Syrian waiting time in Norway had been more than a year.
Among the 650,000 Syrians who arrived in Europe over the period, only 130,000 had not received decisions by late 2016.
Longest wait for Albanians
Across the EU-plus group as a whole, Germany and Sweden had processed about half of their arrivals. The applicants who were left waiting the longest overall were Albanians.
The variations meant that asylum seekers' prospects "largely" depended on where their applications were submitted, said Pew, intimating that Europe was far from fulfilling equal protection under UN conventions.
Also left waiting for a long time were applicants from Afghanistan and Iraq, despite conflicts in both those countries.
By late 2016, 77 percent of Afghans were waiting for first-time or final decisions on appeal; likewise 66 percent from Iraq and 77 percent from Iran.
Also left waiting were people from Kosovo (77 percent), Serbia (74 percent) Russia (72 percent), Pakistan (67 percent), Somalia (56 percent) and Nigeria (55 percent).
Half arrived in Germany
Of the 2.2 million, Germany received 1,090,000 applicants over the two years, Pew concluded. By late 2016, 49 percent of its intake was waiting for decisions.
Other nations with better than average decision rates were Sweden, Belgium, the Netherlands and Italy, Pew said.
Hungary, whose government remains anti-immigrant, had the worst rate, with 94 percent of its 70,000 applicants still awaiting asylum rulings by late 2016.
ipj/rc (AP, KNA)